U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is asking for $178 million to fight mortgage fraud in 2011. If efforts to combat the crime next year will yield results as impressive as those realized the past few months nationwide, the U.S. Department of Justice just might get that money.
Operation Stolen Dream, the largest federal mortgage fraud crackdown in U.S. history, just concluded after a three-month investigation. The results certainly seem to justify the effort, although they also highlight the severity of the problem across the country.
On Thursday, June 17, federal agents arrested 485 people in multiple states for their involvement in mortgage fraud. The investigation centered on over 1,200 people allegedly responsible for over $2 billion in losses.
Those arrested include defendants from Georgia. Sally Quillian, U.S. Attorney for the state’s Northern District, says that the results of the sting merely reflect what investigators are seeing in Georgia, namely, “mortgage fraud moving as fast as the housing market here.” Quillian states that mortgage fraud comes in many types, “steered by crooked closing attorneys, brokers and appraisers, as well as the straw buyers, straw sellers and everyone in between.” There is sometimes a very real dose of drama involved in effecting arrests, with undercover operatives being involved in string operations being carried out at the very end of a transaction, during closing.
Stolen Dreams was more than a criminal enforcement operation. Additionally, the investigation included close to 200 civil enforcement actions that recovered nearly $150 million.
Related Resource: bizjournals.com “Feds arrest 485 in mortgage fraud crackdown” June 17, 2010